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Elma church raising money for Ukrainian refugees

St. Gabriel's has raised $24k so far for Ukrainian refugees who are making their way to Poland.

ELMA, N.Y. — Saint Gabriel's Parish in Elma is collecting cash donations to send to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees. A very deep connection one of the church's priests has with Poland is making this outpouring of support possible. 

"It was heartbreaking to see, you know, so many young people displaced from Ukraine. Mothers with children, the war and the destruction, the pain, the tears," said Rev. Walter Grabowski.

Watching all of the coverage of the war in Ukraine, Father Walter Grabowski decided to make an announcement.

"A week ago Saturday before masses I said I have to do something. I am going to announce to the people just spontaneously, you know, after mass I will stay and we collect money," said Rev. Grabowski.

In the first weekend, St. Gabriel's Parish in Elma collected around $12,000. On Monday, they reached $24,000.

The first round has already made it to the Polish-Ukrainian border to help Ukrainian refugees. For Father Walter, the connection is personal. He grew up in Poland and moved to the United States in 1983. He still has family on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

"In Przemyśl, where most of the people crossing the border, so I have very close contact with my family," said Rev. Walter Grabowski.

"I think the fact that we were able to get the money there quickly, and they began to use it to help people in so many different ways, that was probably the impetus for people to give," said Rev. John Metka.

Father Walter is sending the money right to his family, and they're buying all sorts of supplies.

"Food, children's food, diapers, hygiene for women, medications, all kinds of stuff that it's hard to even mention, underwear, socks. So it's not only staying in Przemyśl, they are spreading this to different places of crossing," said Rev. Walter Grabowski.

You can make donations at the church or by contacting the parish online.